US Presidential Candidates Should Study Recent NL Politics Before Dropping Out of Race

This Presidential primaries currently underway in the United States have been the most shocking and unpredictable in recent, and even distant, memory. Who would have thought that a reality TV star like Donald Trump, who advocates banning Muslims from the country, supports universal health care, and bashes the entire Bush family every chance he gets, would be the frontrunner to win the Republican nomination for President? On the Democratic side, how many people thought that Hilary Clinton would be facing a serious challenge from a 74 year old socialist from Vermont?

On the Republican side, many people worried about a Trump victory are suggesting that John Kasich, the Governor of Ohio, should exit the race so that Marco Rubio could then unite the so-called moderate vote and stop Donald Trump before it’s too late. After coming second in New Hampshire, Mr. Kasich has not done so well in the next two states to cast ballots and many people now believe that he has no chance at winning the nomination. If Bernie Sanders is unable to score another big win like he did in New Hampshire there will be increasing pressure for him to bow out of the race and let Hilary Clinton focus on the general election. But before any of the candidates drop out, they might want to take a look at some of the recent political history in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Two years ago, after Kathy Dunderdale was forced out as leader of the Progressive Conservative party, there was race between two prominent businesspeople, Bill Barrie and Frank Coleman (a third candidate was later ruled ineligible). Mr. Coleman was perceived to be backed by popular former premier Danny Williams and the party establishment, while Mr. Barrie ran an outsider campaign that put him at odds with many in the Party’s establishment. When Mr. Barrie came to feel that the cards were being stacked against him by party insiders, he withdrew from the contest in protest, leaving Frank Coleman unopposed.

Shockingly, before he had the chance to be acclaimed as leader, Mr. Coleman suddenly withdrew from the race, citing family reasons after some critical press coverage about his business dealings with the province and his views on abortion, thus leaving the Progressive Conservative leadership race completely devoid of candidates. Had Bill Barrie fought on even pretty much everyone, including himself, believed he had no chance at winning, we would have become the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Before any candidates drop out of US presidential race, they should remember that, like the Barrie/Colman contest that wasn’t, anything truly can happen in politics. There is no such thing as an inevitable candidate. Donald Trump is a perpetual scandal generator whose campaign could blow up at any moment. Hilary Clinton is still being dogged by investigations into her use of personal e-mail servers for government business. Heck, we are talking about two people pushing seventy, so it would not be that far-fetched for one of their candidacies to be derailed by an illness or some health related issue.

The 2016 presidential primaries are unlike anything we have ever seen. If there was ever a race where there would be some kind of shocking turn of events it would be this one. If I were John Kasich or Bernie Sanders, and I really believed myself to be the best candidate for President, I would keep my name on the ballot right to the bitter end.

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